It was several more days before Thomas called her back. He had probably waited until after the funeral. She wished she could have attended, but Mrs. Langley would have understood, and no one else even knew her.
Thomas was more composed than the last time he called. “Mom and I discussed the situation with the duplex about a month ago. As you know, I had told her I didn’t want the responsibility of a rental in another state. She said that I would inherit the duplex and wanted me to continue with her contract. I didn’t want the property or the responsibility of collecting mortgage payments. We agreed on something else and she willed the duplex to you. You won’t need to send a payment this month or ever again. She has already paid a title company there in town who is supposed to see that you get the deed and have it filed in your name. It’s one thing I can do to say thanks for all you done for her.”
Kayla was speechless for a moment. “I loved her and enjoyed everything I did for her. I don’t want you to feel obliged…”
“We both wanted it this way – and not because we felt an obligation to you. She said you made her days brighter. Thank you for taking care of her the way you did. I didn’t realize how much you meant to her until she came here to stay. I’m glad we had the time together, brief as it was. Her physical suffering has ended. I’m thankful for that. I don’t think she knew how to be unhappy and in the short time she was here, I think she changed my life for the better.”
“She was a wonderful person, and it sounds like you are much like her. I hope your life is as happy as hers was.”
“I’m the only one who can make that happen. Thanks for everything. Like I said, the title company should be getting in contact with you sometime next week. Call me if there is a problem.”
Kayla had no intention of calling him again. If something went wrong, she would take care of it. He didn’t want that responsibility and it wasn’t his.
When she told Drake about it, her first thought was that Marcie wouldn’t have to come up with rent money. Drake reminded her that she was a landlord first and a friend second. Forcing Marcie to meet her obligations would be best for Marcie – and ultimately, Stephanie. He was right, of course. Why did he need to keep reminding her? What was so difficult about that concept?
After Drake talked to the electric company about the late fees, they decided to credit her account. Having so many residences provided with their company helped, and Drake was a persuasive negotiator.
Fortunately, the title company called her to come sign the papers and there was no problem. The rental was hers, free and clear. Marcie didn’t need to know that detail. Whether or not Kayla had a mortgage on the duplex had nothing to do with fair rent.
Drake loaned Marcie the money to repair the apartment and pay the rent. He set payments low enough that they should be easy for her to pay. He even deferred the first two months payments so she could get a job and settle in. Kayla did the same with the rent.
Marcie got a job at a nursing home, and in her spare time, she gave free haircuts to residents. Her new employers loved her, as did the residents. She paid her debt to Drake and always had her rent money, which included utilities, the day before it was due.
Stephanie found her smile again and started school. She was a good student and Marcie was a happy mom.
Kayla married Drake and moved into his home with him. Drake rented the other side of the duplex to a bachelor with excellent references. He would be serving his internship at the city hospital and he appreciated the antique furniture Mrs. Langley had left. Kayla had already moved the things she wanted to Drake’s house…their house. They were starting their married life with no mortgage and the rental properties provided additional income. Drake had his income from book sales, which were shockingly small, considering how many he sold, and his job as an architect. After six months, they lowered the rent on the duplex in honor of Mrs. Langley.
Kayla supported her husband, but she wanted nothing more to do with the rental business that afforded Drake time to write and run his architectural business from home.
Drake wasn’t always a kind and cheerful husband. Who could be the perfect spouse all the time? Certainly not her - especially when she was pregnant. A year after they were married, she presented her parents with a grandson. At least, that was the way they saw it. Drake named their new little bundle of joy Malin. He said in Old English it Meant ‘Little Warrior.’ Hopefully he wouldn’t be the next generation of landlord slayers.
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